Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review of "Then Again" by Diane Keaton

In this memoir Diane Keaton talks about growing up in a large family in California, her career, her romances, her adopted children, and especially her mother. She calls this a story about her mother and herself.

Diane grew up in a loving home, with an especially warm and creative mother and a father who - though somewhat distant - tried to do right by his family. Diane's mother, Dorothy Hall, was addicted to documenting her life, and left behind a large number of journals that are excerpted in this book. We come to know her as a woman devoted to her family and proud of her talented daughter, though perhaps somewhat unfulfilled in her own life. Diane also writes a good deal about her siblings, with whom she has close and affectionate relationships. A couple of eccentric grandparents also make an appearance, whose exploits are sometimes humorous, sometimes touching or sad.

Diane devotes a good deal of the book to her career: her love of singing, her move to New York to look for work, her acting coaches, her entry into show business, movies she's acted in and directed, her friends in the industry, and more. This is engaging and gives a small but interesting glimpse into the world of show business.

Diane is honest about her love life, and speaks openly and kindly about her romances with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, and Al Pacino. Diane badly wanted to marry Pacino, with whom she made three Godfather movies, but could never convince him to take the plunge. Nevertheless, all Diane's boyfriends apparently remained friends for life.

Diane is devoted to the two children she adopted later in life, her daughter Dexter and her son Duke. We learn details about their arrival at her home, gifts they received from Diane's celebrity friends, their birthdays, what they liked to do, their loving interactions with their mom, and so on.

Diane devotes many pages to the death of her father from cancer, and to her mother Dorothy's struggle with Alzheimer's disease; we see Dorothy's slow decline and eventual death. To me, these parts of the book - though clearly very meaningful to the author, whose anguish is clear - were overly long and the least interesting parts of the story.

I enjoyed the first part of the book, about Diane's career, much more than the parts devoted to her parents' illnesses, which were sad but not gripping. If the author writes another book concentrating on her show business experiences I'd read it.   

Rating: 3 stars     

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